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Research Triangle Institute Plays Key Role In Rebuilding Iraq

Posted October 16, 2003

— The end of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq has brought the beginning of something else.

Iraq's cities and towns are learning to govern themselves, thanks to

RTI International

, located in Research Triangle Park.

The nonprofit research institute was hired by the U.S. government to help get the Iraqi people back on their feet.

"People really have not had what we take for granted -- an institution of local government that they can actually influence," said RTI Senior Vice President Ron Johnson. "They've been pretty isolated, so they're just not as familiar with modern management tools for running a city."

RTI has about 120 people from around the world working full time in Iraq.

The workers are experts in city services, from public works to town management. That includes all the resources for new city councils -- such as city managers and budget directors.

RTI is also establishing community groups to lobby their new government.

Johnson is not just in charge of the project -- he is an active participant. He leaves Monday for his third stint in Iraq since work began in April.

"It'll be great work. I wouldn't miss it for anything," he said. "Professionally, it's the most exciting job I've ever done. It's the most fulfilling."

Johnson said his reward is knowing the people he is helping, will one day be on their own.

RTI is still trying to recruit 80 employees for the Iraq project. All workers make a yearlong commitment. Workers get to come home for a two-week vacation twice during that year.

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